Did hell just freeze over?

Posted on December 3rd, 2012 No comments. The post is really that bad, huh?

This is not something I thought I’d ever be saying in my entire life, but Christie Blatchford actually hit the nail squarely on the head in a November 29 piece for the National Post (which makes it doubly stunning).

In it, she talks about Clayton Ruby, the lawyer who worked for free with Paul Magder to bring Rob Ford before the judge on the conflict of interest thing. I was instantly thinking she’d be ripping into the “lefties” who banded together to make this happen, but instead, and rather shockingly, she directly concedes that this is no left-wing conspiracy.

She puts an almost-human spin on both Ruby and Magder, describing some of their past work and the types of causes they put their weight behind. And rather than taking one side or another (i.e. the “left” or “right”), she exposes a much more direct and accurate picture of what motivated both men:

In April of 2010, Toronto Star food writer Corey Mintz wrote a piece headlined “My dinner with Clayton Ruby.”

Mr. Mintz was doing the cooking. As his friends discussed the “polarizing allegiance to the left or right,” Mr. Ruby cut through the verbal red tape, Mr. Mintz wrote.

“I think it’s all abstractly meaningless,” Mr. Ruby said. “There are people who do good in the world. And there are people who do not. And we make judgments.”

And that, I suspect, has much more to do with the efforts to fell Rob Ford than anything else: They do good; Mr. Ford, in their eyes, does not.

It’s interesting to compare this to Blatchford’s earlier pieces where she doesn’t come across in quite the same way:

November 26: “So, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been given the boot from office because an opportunistic citizen hired a smart and politically savvy lawyer who found a club of an arcane statute with which to tie the hands of a judge who was willing to play ball.”

November 23: “That week in court refreshed my memory, as the lawyers say. It was never that I loved Mr. Ford, either the detail of his politics or who he is particularly.

Rather, I liked who he wasn’t.

He wasn’t David Miller, his pretty-boy predecessor. He wasn’t the late Jack Layton. He wasn’t Sandra Bussin, the former councillor. He wasn’t Olivia Chow, another former councillor, Mr. Layton’s widow, who may yet return to run for the mayoralty (but only, of course, if “the people” demand it).

Mr. Ford wasn’t a part of that soft-left ruling class which, during my time at City Hall in the mid-1990s, ran the show, and appears to still. He wasn’t an earnest subscriber to the conventions of downtown city politics, with its sure convictions about What We Believe In.

I remember that so vividly, the smugness, the preening disdain for outsiders, even if, sometimes especially if, they were actual citizens.”

Maybe this is just some opportunistic writing now that it’s looking like Ford’s popularity isn’t all it was cracked up to be (how very Mamolliti of her). Still, the piece is out there, and I’m left with a profound sense of confusion.

Adding to this is feedback from newspapers like the Sun. Okay, well, that one’s perhaps a little more understandable ever since Ford made it clear he and they weren’t friends. Still, writers like Joe Warmington are usually through-and-through Fordites, often quoted by people like Newstalk’s Jerry Agar to prove just how much mainstream support the mayor has.

Just look at Warmington’s latest about a scuffle between Ford and Adam Vaughan:

But many of his leftists enemies — not all — have shown themselves to be graceless. Others have acted like classless lowlifes — the kind who would make fun of his weight, bother him at home with his kids and spread hateful, and hurtful lies, like him going to a gun club when he didn’t or incorrectly saying he called a 911 operator a “bitch” when the tape proves it did not happen.

To be fair, Warmington mentions Ford’s conflict of interest fiasco in this article, recognizing that Rob is somewhat responsible for some of his own mess, but it doesn’t quite stack up to the finger wagging that Warmington gave the mayor when the verdict was delivered:

In reality it would never have ever been put in the judiciary’s hands had Ford shown some humility and displayed a modicum of tolerance for people, and views that don’t walk lockstep with his.

Self-destructive or self-sabotage are other words. It’s as if he prefers the turmoil and conflict more than agreement. Every scandal he’s been involved in, he created himself.

He won’t go to Pride Parade. Dumb.

Talking on cellphone while driving. Avoidable.

Getting into ruckuses with reporters or comedians at his home. Childish.

In this instance, like he did when he slipped and fell at the Grey Cup event on the field in Nathan Phillips Square last week, he sacked himself.

“It is difficult to accept an error in judgment defence based essentially on a stubborn sense of entitlement and a dismissive and confrontational attitude,” wrote the judge.

He played chicken with a judge and lost. Had Ford played the game a little bit it would not have come to this. Had he listened to his peers that he was in conflict and not voted on his own motion, there would be no story. There was no need for any of this. In a culture of us and them, he made it easy for them.

Compare this further with Warmington’s most recent representations of Don Cherry as he backs Ford:

November 28: “Cherry did that himself (get flack for public commentary) last hockey season for emotional comments about three former NHL enforcers and never looked back.

He said now that Ford has done that, there needs to be some compassion and let him get back to doing his job.

“Here’s a guy that has dedicated his life to helping under-privileged kids and this is what happens to him?” Cherry said. “The guy made a mistake with the letterhead (and voting) no doubt. But he didn’t waste or lose billions of dollars like so many other governments have. His was a minor mistake. A human mistake.”

The Hockey Night in Canada legend made headlines two years ago at Ford’s swearing-in by telling Ford’s enemies to “put that in your pipe, you left-wing kooks.”

So he’s not surprised by what’s happening now.

“Let’s lay the cards on the table. The only reason this happened, the only reason, was because of the left-wingers out to get him,” Cherry said.

It has been difficult for him to watch.”

November 29: “Ford has no one to blame for this mess but himself since everybody from his brother Doug, to Don Cherry to deputy mayor Doug Holyday warned him to stop leading with his chin.”

Again, and shockingly so, Warmington is one of the most balanced voices at the Toronto Sun at the present time. Still, with only a day to separate his take on Ford’s situation, Warmington still meekly manages to flip flop more than a fish freshly tossed onto dry land.

And that right there is what I see as being the crux of the problem. It’s not a fight between the “left” and “right”, it’s a toss-up between those who choose a side and obstinately stay with it, even to the point of doing a 180-degree turn in their thinking whenever the breeze changes, and a more centrist approach that is willing to look at all sides with a more critical eye. In other words, the right/left stick bullheadedly with an ideology, often resorting to a 1984-like “doublethink” in order to maintain their blind allegiance.

Of course, I can’t say that this is true across the board, but it certainly seems to be more predominant with those who identify themselves as “right”-leaning (though I’ve seen plenty of examples of exactly the same thing among the “lefty” types too). I couldn’t even imagine the shock to their system when they realize that their beliefs are in line with the most repressive and conformist sort of communist-socialism one could conjure up.

Then again, these same people believe that the extreme right belongs to the Nazis — National Socialists – an extreme form of collectivized,  totalitarian control — and the left to the Communists — an extreme form of collectivized, totalitarian form of control. Only rhetoric, lack of critical thought, and instantaneous doublethink could possibly keep such things separate.

To anyone who is critical, none of this sits well.

Take Adam Vaughan, for example. This Councillor is typified as the anti-Ford at City Hall. He is the predominant “leftie” who the Sun holds up as the source of all evils in their nonsensical didactic.

Because Vaughan has publicly butted heads with Ford, he is placed by the “right” as the man who played the leading role in the mayor’s downfall, and furthermore, that he’s one of the major figures responsible for the “gravy” at City Hall. Ipso facto, anyone who doesn’t blindly follow Ford must necessarily love Vaughan, and by extension waste and gravy and so on and so forth. You get the idea.

That would have to make me a Vaughan-loving “leftie” then, wouldn’t it?

Only problem is that I don’t subscribe to that kind of stupidity. I’m no more enamoured with Vaughan than I am with Ford.

I mean, Vaughan has had fewer dictatorial tendencies thus far, but there’s something I learned recently (and about which I’ll be writing), that make it obvious that both Ford and Vaughan are cut from a very similar cloth.

Point I’m trying to make is that we need to decide where we stand, not where our politicians stand, or what rhetorical one-liners we want to support, etc. Yeah, that does mean we all need to dig a bit deeper, follow politics a bit more closely, read the news (all of it!) with a critical eye, and be willing to take a stand when something doesn’t fit with our own souls.

Sometimes that might even mean — *gasp* — changing our minds about someone!

It’s clear that a large percentage of the population isn’t doing any of this.

And by the way, next time you’re hearing about or discussing the Nazi Holocaust, or the rise of the Communist regime, or any one of the multitudes of evil that spring up around the globe, and you’re wondering how people would allow themselves to fall under such systems en masse (and once you’re under it, good luck!), try comparing what happened then to what’s happening at this very moment.

Blatchford mentioned it, and people like Clayton Ruby are keenly aware of it. And the similarities are horrific.

What's on your mind?